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Boring Sponges

Boring Sponges

Boring sponges bore into the calcium carbonate skeleton of coral.


Biological Harvest is the collection of living things from the ecosystem for recreation, consumption, or sale of marine products. Boring sponges bore into the calcium carbonate skeleton of coral. Complex habitat and resources reflects the complex architecture of sessile, plant-like organisms, such as octocoral and sponges, which provides shelter and protection for small fish and other invertebrates from predators. Contact Uses, such as biological additions, physical damage, and biological harvesting, are activities in which humans create pressures through direct contact with the ecosystem. Coral is a colonial marine animal consisting of polyps. Cultural services are the nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, recreational opportunities, aesthetic experiences, sense of place, and educational and research opportunities. Discharge limitations are responses to regulate and control the discharge of pollutants and the use of chemicals. Discharges are the intentional or unintentional distribution of chemicals, debris, or other pollution, into the environment as a consequence of human activities. Ecosystem monitoring and restoration refers to responses to directly alter the condition of the reef ecosystem through restoration or remediation activities, setting  limits on degradation through biological criteria or water quality criteria, or improving  knowledge through monitoring, mapping, and scientific research. Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems . Encrusting sponges grow on top of the coral. Nutrient and contaminant processing refers to an ecosystem's ability to process and cycle contaminants and nutrients through its system. Nutrients are essential elements needed by plants and animals for growth and primarily include nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, as well as minor nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, or zinc. The Reef Ecosystem includes a suite of abiotic variables that form the physical and chemical environment. Pressures are human activities that create stress on the environment. Provisioning services are the products or ecosystem goods obtained from ecosystems, including seafood, genetic and biochemical resources, pharmaceuticals, ornamental resources, and water resources. The state of the Reef Ecosystem is the condition, in terms of quantity and quality, of the abiotic and biotic components including physical, chemical, and biological variables. Reef Habitat is the abundance, distribution, and condition of the benthic components of the reef ecosystem. Reef Inhabitants are all of the motile components of the reef ecosystem, including fish, invertebrates, marine reptiles and mammals, and are quantified by their  abundance, distribution, and condition. Reef Life is the abundance, distribution, and condition of the biological components of the coral reef ecosystem. Resource use management pertains to responses to regulate or limit contact activities that may directly impact coastal species through harvesting or physical damage. Responses are actions taken by groups or individuals in society and government to prevent, compensate, ameliorate or adapt to changes in Ecosystem Services or their perceived value. Sediment includes dirt, sand, silt, clay, and small rocks that form soil on land or soft substrate in marine habitats, and may be transported by water, wind, or human activities. Socio-Economic Drivers include the sectors that fulfill human needs for Food & Raw Materials, Water, Shelter, Health, Culture, and Security, and the Infrastructure that supports the sectors. Sponges are sessile colonial animals with soft porous bodies supported by a fibrous skeletal framework. Supporting services are ecological processes that indirectly benefit humans by maintaining a functional ecosystem for the production of other ecosystem goods and services. Toxics are chemical pollutants that are poisonous, carcinogenic, or otherwise directly harmful to humans, plants, or animals. Tube, barrel, and finger sponges have vertical morphologies.

CMap Description

Sponges provide complex habitat and resources for fish and other invertebrates. Boring sponges may erode coral skeletons. Encrusting sponges may damage coral by growing over their surface, but can also help bind the reef, facilitate recruitment of crustose coralline algae, and contribute to reef structural strength. Nutrient and contaminant processing by sponges and wetlands can improve water quality and reduces human exposure to contaminants. Sponges may be harvested for household uses, aquariums, or ornamental resources. Sponges also provide aesthetic value, contributing to recreational opportunities for snorkelers and scuba divers. Pollution and harvesting can affect survival and growth of sponges. Monitoring and scientific research can be used to track the condition and abundance of sponges, and to understand interactions with other species. Resource use management may be used to protect endangered species or limit harvesting.


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Citation Year Study Location Study Type Database Topics

Management Options

Management Option Description Sources Database Topics
Resource Use Management: Develop Regulations for Sponge Fisheries Sponges play a vital role on reefs, providing structure, food and filtration. Depending on the method of removal, this process can be very destructive to other reef fauna and habitat. Research is needed to compare impacts of different sponge fishing methods in different areas. NOAA Marine Sanctuary Program. 2007. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary revised management plan. National Ocean Service, Key West, FL.

Accidental & Illegal Harvest; Biochemical & Genetic Resources; Biological Harvest; Biological Monitoring, Mapping, & Scientific Research; Boring Sponges; Commercial Fisheries; Contact Uses; Culture; Cyanobacteria; Educational & Research Opportunities; Encrusting Sponges; Finfish Harvest; Fisheries & Hunting Policies; Fishing & Harvesting Management; Fishing Sector; Invertebrate Harvest; Live Collection; Marine Products; Microorganisms; Nutrient & Contaminant Processing; Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics Sources; Physical Damage; Resource Use Management; Scientific Research; Sponges; Tourism & Recreation; Tourism & Recreation Policies; Trawling & Fishing Gear Damage; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges


Legal Citation Purpose of Law Management Organization Database Topics

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